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November 15, 2002 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Washington Watch

Bench Battle

"concerns" about the McConnell
nomination while not actually taking
positions on confirmation.
But with the return to GOP con-
trol, Leahy will be replaced by Sen.
Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a conservative.
The result: nominees who were bot-
tled up in committee will be brought
to the Senate floor. "Clearly things
NCJW's Washington director.
This year, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., will happen much quicker now,"
Moshenberg said. "And it's always a
the outgoing Senate Judiciary-
Committee chair, held up some partic- challenge to defeat nominees before
the full Senate."
ularly controversial nominees, includ-
The Republicans do not have
ing Michael C. McConnell, a
enough
votes to thwart Democratic
University of Utah law professor. But
filibusters, but fili-
with the GOP
busters are rare in
sweep, the admin-
judicial confirma-
istration has sig-
tion fights.
naled its intent to
Moshenberg
resurrect the
said
NCJW,
McConnell nomi-
through
it's year-
nation, as well as
old "Benchmark
Michael
Priscilla
two nominations
Campaign," will
McConnell Picke ring
Owen
ti iat were actually
have to work
rejected by the
harder to "create
committee: Charles W. Pickering Sr.
of Mississippi and Priscilla R. Owen of alliances of moderate Democrats and
Republicans."
Texas.
But Jewish Republicans, fresh from
NCJW 's president, Marsha Atkind,
their party's stunning victory last
called McConnell's positions on
church-state separation "extreme," and week, are already mobilizing to sup-
port the embattled nominees. "We'll
said that his anti-abortion views are
take a look at nominees on a case-by-
"radical." The group also opposed
case basis," said Matthew Brooks,
Pickering and Owen.
executive
director of the Republican
Several other Jewish groups wrote to
Jewish Coalition. "But the overwhelm-
the Judiciary Committee, expressing

Both sides begin lining up over
GOP court nominations.

JAMES D. BESSER
Wash illgtO /7 CO Te3-pondent

;

IV

ith the Republicans set
to take control of the
Senate, a leading Jewish
women's group is scram-
bling for new strategies in its fight
against conservative nominees to the
federal bench.
The National Council of Jewish
Women (NCJW) may get some help
from Jewish groups that' previously
stayed on the sidelines in the high-
stakes battle over the shape of the fed-
eral judiciary. But it will be an uphill
struggle in a solidly Republican
Congress. And NCJW could face
opposition from Orthodox Jewish
groups, which are more favorably dis-
posed toward some of President Bush's
controversial nominees.
"The right believes it can accom-
plish its agenda best through judicial
nominations on a wide range of issues,
including abortion and church-state
questions, not through in-your-face
legislation," said Sammie Moshenberg,

Friend Of Israel

Californian set to lead House Democrats.

SHARON SAIVI B ER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Washington
congresswoman was in the
middle of her speech at an
American Israel Public
Affairs Committee lunch-
eon in San Francisco last December
when an alarm went off
Fearing a possible terrorist attack,
jittery attendees were rushing out of
the room when they suddenly heard
Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem. It
was the non-Jewish speaker, Rep.
Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was recit-
ing the hopeful lyrics in English. The
crowd was stunned.
"She is connected to the Jewish
community," said Sam Lauter, a pro-
Israel activist in San Francisco. "It

A

comes from her soul."
Lauter — whose family has hosted
Pelosi for years at its Passover seder —
and other Jewish community leaders
have known for a long time that Pelosi
is adept at building religious and polit-
ical bridges. Now she is set to take
over the leadership of the Democratic
Party in the U.S. House of
Representatives.
Pelosi, 62, is almost assured of victo-
ry in the race for House minority
leader, announcing Nov. 8 that she
had secured the support of 111 of the
209 House Democrats. The represen-
tative of California's 8th District since
1987, Pelosi already is the highest-
ranking woman in congressional histo-
ry. She appears poised to make history
again in the leadership election.
The House minority whip, Pelosi

ing majority are hardworking, com-
mitted jurists who the Jewish commu-
nity would have no problem working
with."
Citing NCJW's focus on abortion,
he accused opponents of recent nomi-
nees of "single-issue politics at its
worst."
Last month, the Orthodox Union
wrote a letter to the Judiciary
Committee expressing admiration for
McConnell without formally endors-
ing his nomination. But some Jewish
groups that have stayed out of the •
judicial nomination fray, including the
Anti-Defamation League and the
Religious Action Center of Reform
Judaism, have signaled they may jump
in if the conservative judicial jugger-
naut accelerates.
"These are not your father's judicial
nominations," said Michael
Lieberman, ADI2s Washington coun-
sel. "The NCJW Benchmark
Campaign has really elevated the issue
for the Jewish community, even
though it uses a litmus test — abor-
tion — that we do not use."
Moshenberg insisted that NCJW's
campaign on appellate nominees is
critical to the community's interests.
Even more critical will be the likeli-
hood that President Bush will get to
name at least two Supreme Court jus-
tices in the next two years. Chief
WASHINGTON WATCH on page 24

has been active on a number of issues
vacated the minority leader post he
that resonate with the Jewish commu-
held for eight years. Gephardt is pre-
nity, such as education, AIDS treat-
sumed to be preparing to run for pres-
ment and prevention, health care,
ident in 2004.
housing, human rights and environ-
Pelosi, who spoke at the AIPAC pol-
mental protection.
icy conference last April in
She has consistently supported for-
Washington, called upon Palestinian
eign aid to Israel, and she has backed a Authority leader Yasser Arafat to stop
number of issues important to the
using terrorism against Israel. "Israel
pro-Israel community over the
has the right to provide secu-
years, including moving the
rity to its people by rooting
U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to
out the extreme terrorist
Jerusalem.
organizations," she said.
But Pelosi also sponsored an
In May, Pelosi supported a
amendment calling on
congressional resolution
Congress to urge Israel to
expressing solidarity , with
cancel the sale of an airborne
Israel, which passed over-
radar system to China in
whelmingly in the House.
Nancy Pelosi
2000. Israel ultimately buck-
"Terrorism and suicide bomb-
led to U.S. pressure and can-
ings must not be the price
celled the multi-billion dollar deal,
that is paid for a free society," she said
badly harming its relations with
at the time.
China.
Pelosi said Arafat must show that he
is a partner for peace, the U.S. and the
international community should pro-
Gephardt Steps Down
vide humanitarian assistance to the
Following the Democrats' disappoint-
Palestinians, and the Palestinian coex-
ing results in the Nov. 5 national elec-
istence legacy of former Israeli Prime
tions, Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo.,
Minister Yitzhak Rabin honored. ❑

2002

23

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